Do the Menendez Brothers Reside in Many of Us?

Human nature: Few children murder their parents with shotguns, but there are subtler ways of getting rid of people.

[Published in: The L.A. Times, December 24, 1993]
By Thomas Hersh

A patient in a nursing home (call her "Mrs. Kay") is an 85 year old schizophrenic whose illness is more or less in remission. I look forward to seeing her because of her interesting ideas. She sits alone all day, often with her door closed, and resists everyone who tries to get her involved in activities. When she comes out to eat her meals in the dining room, she makes nasty comments that keep other residents away. She has a reputation. A lady at the home told me that "Mrs. Kay gives me the creeps. She reminds me of one of the Addams family."

A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body

by Thomas Hersh, Ph.D.
Published in: Santa Monica Organic Garden and Nutrition Club Bulletin, June 1998. Volume 37, Number 2, pp. 1-2.

(Dr. Hersh, member of our Club, spoke to us on gardening several years [weeks?] ago. He has a Ph.D. in philosophy from UCLA and a Ph.D. in psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology and has taught as an associate professor. He has been on the faculty of Cal State Northridge, UCLA Extension, and Immaculate Heart. He has had much experience as a clinical psychologist and currently is devoting considerable time to research. Editor's note.)

[July 27, 2011: The following are the Club secretary's published notes from the talk. I do not have a copy of the original paper, so the following is not a completely accurate outline. The goal of the talk was to raise, in dramatic form, the possibility that one's psychological attitude can cause illnesses and that, on the other hand, a stable psychological state can probably have a positive effect on some illnesses. This led to fantasizing about how long we might live if, somehow, we were all in a completely tensionless state throughout our lives.]

How big a factor in illness and cures is the mind? If serious illnesses can be caused by psychic pain and cured by uplifting experiences or hope, if the desire to raise a child can keep a mother with cancer alive until the child reaches a certain age, then is it possible that all disease is caused by psychic disturbances? Is it possible that, if a person were completely pure, spiritual, he would live disease free, able to resist any impurities, or germs, or out-side forces? Is it possible that death itself comes because of some lack of belief or lack of spiritual cleanliness? If we could become pure, if we could believe in immortality and not embrace the collective belief in the inevitability of death, could we live forever?

Short idea (11): An interesting thought a violent schizophrenic patient told me many years ago: "I like to think that everyone has the same amount of suffering they have to experience in their lives. For some it is spread out, and, for others, most of it comes all at once, but we all have the same amount of suffering."

Short idea (23): Mattress ads claim that the reason a person sleeps badly is because of the mattress, and, if you use their mattresses, you will sleep perfectly. It is the springs or the stuffing or whatever. This is a good example of an attempt to explain a psychological state of unrest or discomfort by reference to a thing or event in the external world.

Longer observation (8): A Mother's Sensitivity: When a mother becomes pre-occupied with some concern or other, she may not feel able to handle her children at the level required by her own standards. This is especially true if the children are also worried about what is worrying the mother. It's difficult enough for the mother to handle her own feelings.

Short idea (74): If you watch an horror movie and get anxious, and even feel some fear, this is real anxiety and real fear, but it is caused by events in the movie. What percent of all the anxiety and fear a person feels in life is caused by events in inner "movies"?

Short idea (97): An altar is a focal point for attention, and it is made to focus attention. A little girl dies and a mother makes a little altar at a spot in a room and places a cross on it, the child's favorite ribbon, and a picture. The altar focuses the mother's attention (and is made to focus her attention) on these things. The things help her remember, and to remember in a positive way, and so to counteract the grief and terror of the loss. Not only can the mother sit in front of the altar, but, wherever she is, she knows the altar is where she left it; and she knows the moves she must make to get back to it; and this, by itself, makes her feel a little better. Creating the altar is an unconscious process and can't be contrived. It happens as everything in nature happens.

Impulse, Control, Balance, Etc.:

Psychologists now talk about people with impulse control problems or people with addictive personalities. We all know people who fit these descriptions, and we ourselves may have this problem, at least at times.

Short idea (110): There are two ideas of psychological strength: first, if someone is anxious and tense, and they turn away from their psychological pain and push on to meet their obligations, this is considered, by one camp, to be psychological strength. The other idea is that, if someone is anxious and tense, and they turn inward towards their pain and face it and explore it and come to terms with it, that is considered, by the other camp, to be psychologically brave and strong. Often a husband will have one idea and a wife the other. It is not difficult to think of the conflicts that can arise from this configuration.

Short idea (111) : There are four kinds of hurts. Hurts administered by an enemy, hurts administered by a friend, hurts administered by ourselves, and imaginary hurts. Each requires a different kind of response. 

Short idea (119): We all feel filled with Energy sometimes, bursting with Energy; at other times listless and sluggish and filled with inertia. This feeling of Energy has a psychological label: Libido (sometimes "Libido" is used to refer to all psychological energy, sometimes only to sexual energy). If we look at objects in the physical world we can often see what fills them with energy. For example, a moving object hits one that is still, and the second objects moves, filled with the energy transferred from the first object. It is not so easy to see what fills us with the feeling of Energy or takes away the feeling. If we do see what does, it is difficult to understand how this can happen. For example, how can bad news make us feel all the Energy draining from us? We may be able to picture how a virus could take the wind out of our sails, but how can hearing bad news do it?

Short idea (126): Here is a powerful idea I heard that I think is an exaggeration with some little truth in it, though you may have a different opinion: All suffering that remains unconscious becomes a physical illness. If the suffering is the private suffering of one individual, the individual will get a physical illness. If it is the suffering of a country, people all over the country will get sick. If the unconscious suffering is of all the people in the world, people all over the whole world will get sick. If the unconscious suffering is deep enough, painful enough, and unconscious enough, the resulting physical sickness is a fatal one.

A Psychological Approach to Tension and Migraine Headaches

{slider Introductory Comments}

Introductory Comments

This is a discussion of migraines from a psychological point of view — from the "inner" point of view. [I hope it is clear that it is not offered as a cure or psychological treatment for headaches. It is meant to be used in addition to psychological, psychiatric, and/or medical treatment, not as an alternative or replacement for them. The goal is to help the reader understand possible underlying psychological factors involved in some headaches. It is aimed at people interesting in learning about themselves.]

Dear Reader with Anxiety,

The following is one thing I think about anxiety, and it is only my opinion.

Short idea (137): A tentative psychological idea: There are two kinds of people: those who are too anxious and those who aren't anxious enough. A person is either one or the other. If a person could choose his or her type with respect to how they worry, they would have to choose between being a worry wart or a naive babe in the woods. It must be added that people often don't worry about the things they should be worrying about.

Dear Reader who is a Batterer,

(This note is definitely not meant as a replaced for psychotherapy! It is a thought that might possible be useful for some people, some of the time, who are already working on this problem in psychotherapy.)

This is a note to people who:

1) have impulses to assault and battery

2) struggle with these impulses, because they think they are bad, and still have trouble controlling them, and

3) whose abuses are minor on a scale of 1-10 —

(There are many degrees of abuse. Some abuse is tolerated by society and is not illegal. Some is socially acceptable and even encouraged. In this last class are some forms of emotional and verbal abuse that people feel is funny or strong. People who stand up to these "minor" forms of abuse are often considered to be "overly sensitive." —

(This note to batterers assumes the reader will feel it is morally correct for him or her to seek help now and immediately with any abuse that even hints at severity to him or herself and/or others.)

Short idea (144): One type of injury, like a cramp, can be helped by exercising it and by not giving in to it. Another type, like certain sprains, require the opposite. These require immobilization and no movement and are dependent on time to heal. It may be that sometimes these never heal; the best you can hope for here is to learn to compensate, to learn what movements to avoid aggravating the injury. There are also these same two types of psychological wounds and the same two types of psychological healing.

Short idea (149): Over the last few years I have spent a lot of time thinking about the psychology of Anxiety. If I had to sum up my thoughts at this point in time about what is Anxiety I would say: Anxiety = Future. 

Short idea (145): One image of love that comes down to us from ancient times is of a cute little chubby infant, Cupid, shooting one of his tiny arrows into someone's heart. This image appears In paintings and on greeting cards and in T.V. advertisements selling gifts for happy lovers. But the image of Cupid shooting an arrow into an heart must have had different meaning for the ancients. We don't use bows and arrows for hunting or warfare, but they did. To be shot in the heart with an arrow would not have been thought by them to be a wonderful, happy experience.

Short idea (154): Good Action along with periods of Silence and Aloneness can be a shield, a refuge, and a hospital for a weary, lost, bloody soul.

Short idea (158): I can think of 5 roots of anxiety: Ignorance, Knowledge, Cowardice, Attachment, and Chemical Interactions.

Short idea (36): Devastating experiences make a person feel closer to those who have been through similar experiences and distant and separate from those who haven't. Losing a child separates a person from most other people; losing an old parent makes one feel part of the natural flow.

(Psychological Paradoxes & Puzzles — 9)

A Paradox regarding Thinking, Depression, & Cheerfulness

2014 JMH International Essay Contest — SUMMARY ARTICLE

Introductory Thoughts

The essayists agreed that anger and violence are serious problems, for the people involved and on the level of society which it can undermine.

Strong anger is like a wild-fire; it destroys reason. People who get carried away by anger often say, later, that they don't know what came over them, and so, being taken over by anger, is like becoming unconscious.

Short idea (169): Regarding which mattress is the most comfortable: When you are tense and troubled, no mattress feels comfortable.

Short idea (175): Anger is a way of holding things at arm's length, of isolating oneself from what you are angry at. We know the negative sides of this distancing for oneself and for others, but a positive function is that it seems to be a necessary step in thinking; it is pre-condition of observing and analyzing.